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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Language as a 'resource' in South Africa: the economic life of language in a globalising society
Author:Wright, LaurenceISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review
Geographic term:South Africa
Subject:language policy
Abstract:The author examines the current predicament of language policy in South Africa. Advocates of radical multilingualism - defined as those who believe that the eleven official languages should or could be made to operate at all levels and for all functions - fail to take economic arguments into account. From an economic standpoint, the value of particular languages, countrywide, relates to their utility within the formal economy. In most cases, the impact of modernity will be felt in at least a modest attempt at educated bilingualism, with an African language or Afrikaans being chosen for social and cultural reasons, while English is selected to satisfy career ambitions fuelled by economic aspirations. The question arises, if an African home language does not yield access to the heights of the economy, where will the social motivation be found to continue with additive multilingualism in important learning areas to the higher reaches of secondary education, if the language of tertiary learning remains principally English? The author is in favour of interpreting the National Language Policy and Plan in terms of an accepted form of linguistic complementarity, where the burden of modernity is carried by English and Afrikaans, at least for operational purposes in the central economy, and the African languages perform their social and heritage functions of uniting the society, maintaining ethnic identity, and carrying cultural and historical traditions. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]